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Prevalence and correlates of physical activity in people living with a chronic condition (ATKINA_U23FMH)

   Faculty of Medicine and Health Science

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  Dr A Atkin  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project


Physical activity is a ‘wonderdrug’, capable of enhancing physical and mental health at all stages of life, even amongst those with an existing health condition.  As the population ages and medical treatments improve, an increasing number of people are living with a chronic health condition, such as hypertension (high blood pressure) or type 2 diabetes.  In these populations, physical activity is associated with slower disease progression, improved rates of survival and enhanced quality of life.  However, people living with a chronic condition are typically less active than the general population and may face additional barriers to activity due to concerns that it may exacerbate their condition.  At present, evidence to inform the development of interventions and policy to promote physical activity in this population is limited.  To strengthen the evidence and inform policy and practice on this important public health topic, we are offering a fully-funded PhD studentship to conduct research on the prevalence and correlates of physical activity in people living with a chronic condition. 

Research methodology 

This PhD will entail the analysis of existing data from a number of large-scale epidemiological studies.  It will also include a synthesis of existing evidence on interventions to promote physical activity in this population and preliminary development of a new physical activity promotion intervention.   

Person specification 

This project is suitable for someone with a good first degree (at least 2:1) and preferably a Masters in a related topic area, such as epidemiology, public health, physical activity/exercise science or health science.  Formal training or prior experience of evidence synthesis and/or the analysis of large-scale epidemiological data would be advantageous. 


Appropriate training will be provided depending on the needs and interests of the successful candidate.  This may include training about conducting a systematic review or the analysis of large-scale epidemiological data.  Contact Dr Andrew Atkin ([Email Address Removed]) for further details and to discuss your application.   

Funding Notes

This PhD project is in a Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences competition for funded studentships. These studentships are funded for 3 years and comprise UK fees, an annual stipend of £17,668 and £1,000 per annum for research training (RTSG). Overseas applicants (including EU) may apply but are required to fund the difference between Home and International tuition fees.


Atkin AJ, Carr S, Friedenreich C, Biddle SJ, Milton K. Behavioural epidemiology of physical activity in people living with chronic conditions. Br J Sports Med [Internet]. 2022 Aug;56(16):896–7. Available from:
Dempsey PC, Friedenreich CM, Leitzmann MF, Buman MP, Lambert E, Willumsen J, Bull F. Global Public Health Guidelines on Physical Activity and Sedentary Behavior for People Living With Chronic Conditions: A Call to Action. J Phys Act Health. 2021 Jan 1;18(1):76-85. Available from:
DiPietro L, Al-Ansari SS, Biddle SJH, Borodulin K, Bull FC, Buman MP, … Milton K, et al. Advancing the global physical activity agenda: recommendations for future research by the 2020 WHO physical activity and sedentary behavior guidelines development group. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act [Internet]. 2020 Dec 26;17(1):143. Available from:
Martin Ginis KA, van der Ploeg HP, Foster C, Lai B, McBride CB, Ng K, et al. Participation of people living with disabilities in physical activity: a global perspective. Lancet [Internet]. 2021 Jul 31;398(10298):443–55. Available from:
Barker J, Smith Byrne K, Doherty A, Foster C, Rahimi K, Ramakrishnan R, et al. Physical activity of UK adults with chronic disease: cross-sectional analysis of accelerometer-measured physical activity in 96 706 UK Biobank participants. Int J Epidemiol [Internet]. 2019 Feb 1;48(4):1167–74. Available from:
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